Whether you're a parent teaching your kids at home or a teacher trying to educate a classroom of 20 children, there are bound to be stumbling blocks throughout the educational journey. It's not uncommon to experience misunderstood lessons, failed connections and frustrating times when progress seems stagnant. Taking a new proactive approach to education can be the critical turning point.
Creative teaching strategies are gaining a lot of attention because they can help overcome some of the most common and most difficult issues when educating kids. Every child is creative, and the younger they are, the more free they are with that creative expression. By tapping into this energy, you can help kids thrive academically and socially.
It's logical to associate creativity with the arts. When painting or making music, we are working the creative parts of the brain and tapping into the fundamental aspects of human expression. Other subjects may not seem very creative at face value — such as mathematics, science or foreign language study — but they actually can be through creative teaching activities.
The important thing to remember is that creativity isn't necessarily a category so much as it is a mindset that fosters innovation and personal growth. The key is for the teacher (whether an educator or a parent) to model creative behaviors while setting the stage for students to take risks while feeling comfortable in utilizing their own creativity.
Why take the time to foster creativity? Because it will make a big difference for all students. Creativity is motivational, empowering and fuels active learning. At Language Stars, we embrace creative teaching strategies through our FunImmersion® approach to learning, where native-speaking teachers provide fun and personalized instruction for students to successfully learn a new culture and language.
If you want to take steps to implement creative teaching strategies at home or at school, consider these five guiding principles.
Create a limitless environment
Rather than focus on a child's inherent limitations, adopt an attitude that anything is possible. Creativity is limitless and when children see you believe in them, they start to believe in themselves. Kids are constantly hearing "no" or "you can't do that." Of course, you need to set boundaries, but don't be afraid to explore the possibilities of "what if" and try letting students take the lead in how educational discussions and curriculum unfold.
Creativity is thinking outside the box and challenging assumptions. Keep an open mind and allow kids to question things. When you explore why, you can discover some pretty amazing things. Challenging assumptions is also a crucial part of diversity education, which helps kids gain cultural understanding that will benefit them for years to come. Encourage critical and analytical thinking by asking open-ended questions to probe students' ideas.
Build a problem-solving mindset
Creative thinking is a critical skill set that will help prepare kids for the future. Even analytical subjects require creative approaches to problem-solving. For example, number sense is important for elementary students. Rather than stressing memorization of addition flashcards, try mental math strategies to encourage kids to approach numbers in a more creative manner. For example, how many different ways can you break up the number 10? (5+5, 3+7, 1+4+5, etc.)
Resiliency is an important skill for young people to learn. The ability to make mistakes and forge on comes easier to some students than others. There are several things parents and teachers can do to help build resilient students. First, set appropriate expectations so kids know mistakes are human. Every mistake is a learning opportunity, after all! Second, don't create the illusion that adults never make mistakes. Show kids mistakes when you make them so they know it's a natural part of life. Then model resiliency as you make corrections and try again.
Provide adequate time
One important thing to keep in mind is that creativity takes time. It's not something that can be rushed, and in fact, time stressors can kill the creative process. When planning lessons or teaching concepts, leave some wiggle room for the creative process. That way kids can feel comfortable in testing out new approaches, stretching their creative wings, and making and correcting mistakes along the way.